Wednesday, December 17, 2014

This year's Christmas blockbuster.

Most of you have heard or read the story of Louis Zamperini. A film of his life, Unbroken, will be this year's blockbuster Christmas movie. Here he is speaking at a Billy Graham rally for Christ in 1958.



Thanks to Scott Ott

Now this is satire

A huge disconnect

Putting taxpayers at risk. GOP now barely a weak shadow of its former self.



I wonder what these guys have to say about the fact that the wife of Senator Ted Cruz is a Goldman Sachs executive.

A tax grab

The redistribution of health.

Progressivism is barbarism

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Russia raises its key interest rate to 17%

Olga Tanas and Anna Andrianova write:
In a surprise announcement just before 1 a.m. in Moscow, the Russian central bank said it would raise its key interest rate to 17 percent from 10.5 percent, effective today.

The announcement, as well as its timing, underscored the financial straits in which Russia now finds itself. If sustained, the new higher rates would squeeze an economy that is already being hurt by sanctions led by the U.S. and European Union, and by a collapse in oil prices. Some analysts said they doubted the economy could withstand such high rates for long.
Read more here.

"Smart Power"



Yeah, us having more empathy with the Taliban will change the prospects for peace all right. From Ace of Spades:
Today: Taliban Butchers 130 Schoolchildren; Sets Teacher on Fire In Front of Class
Last Week: Hillary Clinton Claims We Need to "Empathize With" Our Enemies

Which aspect of them shall we empathize with -- their raping of women, or their massacring of children?

Or perhaps their raping of children?

"This is what we call Smart Power," Hillary says.

Oh? Doesn't sound that smart to me.

Incidentally, how are Obama's negotiations with the child-massacring Taliban faring, eh? Have we negotiated how many children they will murder down from 2000 per year down to 1000 per year?
Found here.

The common ground guy?

Near the top of the news today is the twitter sent out by Jeb Bush that he is considering running for the Republican nomination in 2016. Folks on the right of center are not happy. Jeb told Ben Smith in 2012 that Ronald Reagan -
as would my dad -- they would have a hard time if you define the Republican Party -- and I don't -- as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground," Bush said, adding that he views the hyper-partisan moment as "temporary."

"Back to my dad's time and Ronald Reagan's time --they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support," he said. Reagan "would be criticized for doing the things that he did."

Ben Smith writes:
The notion that Jeb Bush is going to be the Republican presidential nominee is a fantasy nourished by the people who used to run the Republican Party. Bush has been out of a game that changed radically during the 12 years(!) since he last ran for office. He missed the transformation of his brother from Republican savior to squish; the rise of the tea party; the molding of his peer Mitt Romney into a movement conservative; and the ascendancy of a new generation of politicians — Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, among them — who have been fully shaped by and trained in that new dynamic. Those men occasionally, carefully, respectfully break with the movement. Scorning today’s Republican Party is, by contrast, the core of Jeb’s political identity.

In that, Jeb is like ex-Republican Mike Bloomberg and like the failed GOP apostate Jon Huntsman: He’s deeply committed to centrist causes — federalized education, legal status for undocumented immigrants — that alienate key Republican groups; and he’s vaguely willing to go along with vestigial conservative issues that Republicans don’t care as much about, like standing up for Wall Street (Jeb was on a Lehman Brothers advisory board before that bank’s collapse, and now sits on a Barclay’s board) and opposing marriage equality, a stance he’s sought to downplay by focusing on states’ rights.

Smith's conversation with Jeb occurred at the
Bloomberg Tower for a board meeting of the personal foundation of the former New York mayor, whose aggressive campaigns for gun control make him, after President Obama, perhaps the most hated figure among pro-gun Republicans. The foundation’s focus includes two particularly bitter pills for Republicans: shutting down coal-fired power plants and campaigning globally for the kinds of new taxes on junk food whose introduction in New York City infuriated the right.

Jeb is one of the nation’s leading champions of Common Core standards, a move toward nationalizing America’s patchwork education; his foundation recently launched an ad campaign promoting them. The move is driven by a broad consensus of labor and business groups, as well as philanthropists like Bill Gates, but it has proven intensely unpopular with a Republican base generally suspicious of federal control and specifically focused on local autonomy in education.

“I guess I’ve been out of office for a while,” Bush told Fox News this week. “So the idea that something I support that people are opposed to, it means that I have to stop supporting it if there’s not any reason based on fact to do that? I just — maybe it’s stubbornness, but I just don’t seem compelled to run for cover when I think this is the right thing to do for our country.”

Jeb’s visit to New York in 2012 was a relatively rare outing to the non-Sunday show press, and as the quote suggests, he found himself making news that he didn’t intend to make, losing control of his image to the speedy, Twitter-driven political conversation before we’d finished our fresh-squeezed orange juice. Politicians are at their root in the media business — they’re communicators, distributing words, videos, images, and ideas — and it was painfully clear as he spoke that Jeb (like Bill Clinton) was a man of languorous 1990s media cycles who had little sense of the fragmented new one.

Are Republicans going to be content to go with a moderate, big government known name? As Smith writes, Jeb may be a Mitt Romney in the best case scenario, but in the worst case scenario, he may be
Mitt with a dollop of Fred Thompson, the halfhearted victim of a halfhearted draft.
Read more here.

Ace of Spades adds:
Oh: And the new news is that, allegedly, the Bush Brand is a now a benefit rather than a hindrance, as George W. Bush (and his dad) have risen in public esteem (or just fallen in public antipathy).

I don't have as much of a problem with the Bush Brand as other people; I have a problem with the Jeb Bush Brand.

I think it's absurd for a candidate's main selling point to be how much he hates the party whose nomination he's seeking.

I have literally not heard this guy say One Thing he likes about Republicanism or conservatism. All I hear is is List of Ways In Which We've Disappointed Him.

Well, I've had six years of one entitled narcissist telling me I have to elevate my game to gain his (His?) approval.

That's enough for me. I've had a snootful.
Read more here.

Warming of everything cold

Ann Voskamp writes today that
this Christmas that we celebrate, this is the Winter Passion, the white hot burn of His love.

The cross is the sign of God’s lavish, unfathomable affection for us, and we need the cross daily because of these two realities: 1) How else can I remember that He loves me? 2) How else can I remember how to die daily?

And if there is no cross in my Christmas, then my Christmas has lost Christ — and what is the manger if it not for the Messiah, the one who saves us with the scars?

This Babe who lays in a wooden manger, who came to lie on a wooden Cross, He is healing all our wounds…

This white hot love of His cross.

This warming of everything cold….
Read more here.

Not so nourishing

I missed this item in the news last month. Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC's Meet the Press told Larry King that Obama is a very likeable fellow who nourishes Todd.



Manhattan Infidel got an exclusive interview with Mr. Todd, but missed the nourishing part. Read it here.

It's not the facts, it's the higher truth!


Manhattan Infidel has some gory details of being raped at UVA. If you can read through the entire sorry episodes here, you will certainly agree with him that it is not the facts, it is the higher truth that is important.

Not so fast, Pope Francis!


The Pope's recent proclamation saying that animals go to Heaven isn't sitting too well with some of Heaven's residents. Manhattan Infidel has the exclusive story here.

The GOP plan to lose the 2016 elections



Manhattan Infidel has been listening and watching closely our GOP leaders. They have a plan guaranteed to lose the 2016 elections. Read his magnificent satire here.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

I will ease your mind

The Lord's Prayer

Time for Congress to examine the White House use of the I.R.S.

Charles Lipson makes the case for Congress to examine the extent to which the White House has used the I.R.S. to harass people and organizations out of favor with the White House.
Any White House interference with the IRS is a fundamental assault on the rule of law and the disinterested application of the tax code. If allowed to stand, it will serve as a pernicious precedent for future administrations.

A politicized Justice Department cannot be trusted to conduct an impartial investigation or to appoint a reliable outside prosecutor. This means that any serious inquiry is up to Congress.

Now Treasury has clammed up again, trying to keep its contacts with the White House secret and reiterating that it is exempt from disclosure. The administration has offered a bizarre rationale: It would be illegal to turn over documents the IRS shared illegally since it is illegal for the IRS to share the files with anyone, including the court.
Read more here.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Masking symptoms and hiding battles

Is a sick body a nuisance to be subdued and enslaved or a friend to be honored and listened to? That's the question addressed by Tonia at Study in Brown in her current post (written in November).
Once upon a time people recovered from illness in long, slow chunks of bed-ridden time. That was before we were so busy that we couldn’t be inconvenienced by our bodies. A time before we invented pills to mask symptoms and hide the battle waged by our hard-working immune systems.
Read more here.

Bad day changes to good day



Thanks to Ann Voskamp

Silent Night, Holy Night

Angels we have heard on high



Thanks to Ann Voskamp

The miracle of forgiveness

Ann Voskamp wrote this week about our ability to forgive:
Your heart can’t forgive. That’s why He gave you His.

When you don’t think you can forgive what she’s said about you —-

When you don’t think you can forget what he’s done to you –
When it’s His heart beating in you — you can forgive in a heart beat.

God takes broken hearts —- and gives you His.
Read more here.

You love life? Then give your best effort!



Thanks to Ann Voskamp

Dancer getting ready for Christmas Eve



Thanks to Ann Voskamp

Move over, Mark Spitz!

Who says a great horned owl can't do a perfect breast stroke? He dived into Lake Michigan to escape two peregrine falcons. Photographer Steve Spitzer captured the moment.


Read more here.

Some of the best photos of 2014

Christmas tree? Okay, but first, let's play!

Photo by Jonathan Huyer

Whoo you looking at?

Photo by Glen Hush

Snow in Florida? having a laugh about that!

Photo by Graham McGeorge

Heading into Apocalypse

Photo by Amanda Nand

Santa's reindeer resting up for the big night

Photo by Danka Lo

Trust

Photo by Beverly Houwing

See many more wonderful photos here.

Pushing me harder through the darkness to find the light

At what point in our history did perfection become more important than honesty? Joy@wildflowersphotos.com believes it may have been when Kodak released it's first consumer-friendly camera. She writes:
Kodak advertisements featured celebrations and joyful events. Their slogans were all an effort to sell photography with happiness; “Kodak knows no dark days”, “Save your happy moments with a Kodak.” In time, these “Kodak moments” became the new American standard for how a pleasing, “happy” photo should look.

Joy has
been given this gift of wanting to look a little longer for traces of gratitude in everyday life.

She urges us to
Notice when life is passing you by and fight to stay present. Fight against fear when it tells you that there isn’t anything worth remembering. Because those days become years; and, before you know it, you’ve missed it. Don’t miss it. Start documenting life in your own home.

She ends with this quote from Margery Williams in The Velveteen Rabbit:
“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Read more of Harvesting Hope: A life worth rememberinghere.

Repeat the sounding joy!

I just love this. I know I posted it before, but please watch and enjoy our United States Air Force Band play an original version of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring/Joy to the World at the Smithsonian.



Thanks to Ann Voskamp.

Another memory

In 1976 I took my daughters on a train ride to California, where we enjoyed a spectacular fireworks show in San Francisco on the 200th anniversary of our great country.



Thanks to Ann Voskamp

Ancient history

This post will be the final proof to my kids that I am ancient.

This is the washing machine my mom used to wash our clothes downstairs in our unfinished basement, which is also where I played basketball when the ground outside was covered in fresh Iowa snow. Then, she took the clothes outside to hang them on the clothesline. Funny thing is that they looked better than my clothes look today!


One of my favorite things we did every summer was go to Goldfield, Iowa for a family reunion at my grandma's house. The "bathroom" was outside behind the house.


The most important piece of furniture in the living room was the radio, where we ate popcorn and listened to Jack Benny every Sunday night. It came on after "The Shadow Knows," "The Lone Ranger," "Tom Mix," "Roy Rogers," "Gene Autry," and "Hopalong Cassidy."


After listening to all the "Westerns," I would load up my cap gun and go looking for bad guys to shoot. In those days there actually were bad guys, and we could name them, then shoot them.


At school we had just enough room under our desks to hide when our country was testing atomic bombs in the Nevada desert.


It was always fun to go to the theater every Saturday, even though we did have to shell out ten cents for a double feature, usually featuring the same western stars mentioned above.


I made sure to call my girlfriend every night so we could plan our future.


That future might include milkshakes at Tollers Drug Store, if I was lucky.


We might decide to play an Elvis Presley song on the juke box, while we enjoyed our milkshakes.


After the milkshake I might have to fill up my Buick at the local gas station. Actually, this man poured the gas into the tank for me.


It was always fun to make ice cream.


In the summer I could take my girlfriend to the Drive In, if her dad would let her come with me.


Thanks to Lt. Col. Curt Dale




Friday, December 12, 2014

Is it a sin to doubt?

Robert Tracinski writes:
As a young atheist observing my friends, I realized that those who had the most difficulty dealing with a religious upbringing - regardless of whether or not they remained religious — were those who had been taught that it is a sin to doubt. They were constantly being shoved up against lines of thought that they couldn’t let themselves pursue, issues where it was a basic betrayal of their values to follow the evidence wherever it might lead.

For all its supposed secularism, the contemporary left has plenty of it own areas where it is a sin to doubt. In fact, they have turned the word “denier”—in this context, a synonym for “doubter”—into their favorite epithet. Is the burning of fossil fuels really causing a disastrous change in the weather? It is a sin to doubt. Is there really a campus rape “epidemic” supported by a “rape culture”? It is a sin to doubt. Is America—50 years after the dismantling of segregation and with a black man in the Oval Office—really a country so mired in racism that it deliberately and systematically murders young black men? It is a sin to doubt.

So in the past few weeks, if you are on the left, you have been urged to regard the facts of two sensational, high profile cases—a police shooting in Missouri and an alleged rape at the University of Virginia—as unimportant. It doesn’t matter if Michael Brown really had his hands up and was trying to surrender when he was shot, what matters is maintaining the “metaphor.” It doesn’t matter if a young woman was really gang-raped at a fraternity, what matters is the “wider truth” about “rape culture.” “To let fact checking define the narrative,” an earnest young editor at UVA’s Cavalier Daily insists, “would be a huge mistake.” In effect, you are being told that the facts should never be allowed to get in the way of the correct political narrative. But from another perspective, what you are being told is that the facts should never be allowed to tempt you into the sin of doubting.

Consider how this applies to the case for capitalism. If there were ever a system that proved its value for improving human life, it is the free market. Industrial capitalism is, in fact, the only thing that has ever made it possible for large numbers of people to lift themselves out of poverty. Whereas socialism has repeatedly failed, in every form and variation and on every continent. Not only did it fail, but it was responsible for vast, inconceivable crimes. (Google “Holodomor” sometime. Just don’t do an image search if you want to sleep for the next few nights.)

Yet it is usually considered self-evident that socialists are idealists who are concerned about the little guy, while advocates of capitalism want to push the masses down into poverty.

The same thing goes for the welfare state. The War on Poverty has spent trillions of dollars over 50 years and has merely fixed poverty into place. Yet if you advocate the expansion of the welfare state, you are regarded as proving how deeply you care about the plight of the poor. Criticize the welfare state, and you are regarded as callous and indifferent to all human suffering.

The gap between the left’s laudatory self-image and the less-than-spectacular results of its programs is widely interpreted on the right as evidence that smug self-congratulation is the real purpose. It doesn’t matter whether a government program actually works, so long as you can pat yourself on the back for being progressive enough to vote for it. But I’m beginning to wonder whether the actual goal is the avoidance of evil thoughts. Ask yourself: how much of your political self-image is tied up in regarding yourself as better and purer than those wicked “deniers” on the right?

What have you learned about parenting?

Ann Voskamp reflects on parenting:
Parenting is about preparing children to get along with each other, to get along with you and without you, and that it’s impossible to get along without God.

The moment when you are most repelled by a child’s behavior, that is your warning light to draw the very closest to that child.

What we say to our kids in passing is what becomes their inner voice.

Anger is contagious. And so is grace.

Thank God.
Read more here.

Lie for political power

Andrew Klaven is beyond brilliant!

"Full of crap!"

Dick Cheney responds to Senate Democrats' criticism of CIA interrogation of terrorists.


More ABC US news | ABC World News

Using "enhanced" tactics on terrorists

Scott Ott remembers 9-11, and has this to say about the "enhanced" tactics used on those who wanted to or did attack us:
Out of a clear blue sky, stock brokers and janitors rained.

Contorted bodies approached terminal velocity in wind-whipped business suits.

Forced to decide between the slow agony of fire and the sudden — O, God I hope it’s sudden –slam against cement, they laid out upon the atmosphere, wishing for the whisper of angel wings to whisk them ever upward.

Yet.

Plummeting.

Now, put yourself in the shoes of the CIA director, or of the interrogator in the field.

If you thought you had even a small chance of stopping another attack, what “enhanced” tactics would you not try?

What moral code would impede you from your utmost exertion to quench the flame…to catch the falling man?

Damn them in hindsight, if you will.

I cannot.

In their best efforts, I hear the whisper of angel wings.
Read more here.

3 Hillary Clinton supporters

We're the pleasure people

Thursday, December 11, 2014

America 2014

A group of teens bending over their cell phones while sitting next to a Rembrant.



Thanks to Christopher Buckley

America stills soars above global competition

Why does America continue to do well, in spite of the failures of Washington D.C.? Victor Davis Hanson writes:
Put simply, millions of quiet, determined Americans get up every morning and tune out the incompetence and corruption of their government. They simply ignore destructive fads of popular culture. They have no time for the demagoguery of their politicians and the divisive rhetoric of social activists. Instead, these quiet Americans simply go to work, pursue their own talents, excel at what they do, and seek to take care of their families.

The result of their singular expertise is that even in America’s current illness, the nation still soars above the global competition.

Only in America can you find the sort of innovation, talent, legal framework, and can-do attitude needed to invent and refine hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling. Just a few hundred thousand scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, oil riggers, and skilled craftsman have revived the once-ossified oil industry for 320 million Americans

The United States is not running out of fuels — as was predicted over the last 20 years. It instead has become the largest gas-and-oil producer in the world.

The epitaph for Silicon Valley is written each year. Its tech industry is copied the world over. Yet seemingly each year a new American technical innovation — the laptop, Google, Facebook, the iPad, the iPhone — sweeps the world. Apparently, American informality, meritocracy, and top-flight engineering still draw global talent into Northern California, which sends back out the latest gadgets to be gobbled up by billions.

Neither drought, nor needlessly cumbersome regulations, nor unfair trade practices have stalled American agriculture. The farms of the United States — where less than 2 percent of the population resides — have never turned out so much safe, nutritious, and cheap food that is feeding the world and earning America hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign exchange.

The U.S. military — in which fewer than 1 in 100 Americans serve — is facing record cuts. The Navy will have fewer ships than the American fleet of World War I. The Air Force and the Marine Corps are shrinking. Yet superb American forces continue to ensure that the United States and its allies remain safe. Neither Vladimir Putin’s Russia, nor the Communist Chinese hierarchy, nor the Iranian theocrats are quite ready to take the on the U.S. military. All are rightly worried that to do so would be suicidal.

America is not saved by our elected officials, bureaucrats, celebrities, and partisan activists. Instead, just a few million hardworking Americans in key areas — a natural meritocracy of all races, classes, and backgrounds — ignore the daily hype and chaos, remain innovative and productive, and dazzle the world.

The silent few of a forgotten America have given the entire country an astonishing standard of living that is quite inexplicable.
Read more here.

Making a splash

Edward Kosner examines journalism in America today:
Quite simply, print editors and their writers, and especially the publications’ proprietors, are being unhinged by the challenge of making a splash in a new world increasingly dominated by the values of digital journalism. Traditional long-form journalism—painstakingly reported, carefully written, rewritten and edited, scrupulously fact-checked—finds itself fighting a losing battle for readers and advertisers. Quick hits, snarky posts and click-bait in the new, ever-expanding cosmos of websites promoted by even quicker teasers on Twitter and Facebook have broadened the audience but shrunk its attention span, sometimes to 140 characters (shorter than this sentence).

Whether they realize it or not, and most do, print journalists feel the pressure to make their material ever more compelling, to make it stand out amid the digital chatter. The easiest way to do that is to come up with stories so sensational that even the Twitterverse has to take notice.

As it happened, the Rolling Stone piece was undone by old-school reporting by the Washington Post, which has the resources to do its job only because it is being subsidized by the Internet billionaire Jeff Bezos of Amazon, who bought the paper from the Graham family last year for $250 million.

The new, disruptive pressure of digital publishing on what has come to be thought of as traditional journalism isn’t going to ease anytime soon. Those who are owners or workers in legacy publishing have to understand that they can survive the onslaught—and perhaps eventually thrive—only by maintaining the rigorous standards that once made these publications not only respected but trusted by their readers and advertisers. Desperate times call for disciplined journalism.
Read more here.

Journalism in America today

Mollie Hemingway looks at the state of journalism today:
It’s absolutely true that we don’t have a wave of outright fabrication-out-of-whole-cloth. But what we have is much worse. We have a tsunami of inaccuracy that is generally tolerated, embraced and even celebrated so long as it serves the right political and cultural goals.

But the real problem doesn’t seem, at this point, to be about journalistic invention so much as adoption of narratives at the expense of facts.

I know you’re shocked — shocked! — that AP reporter Philip Elliott inaccurately described speeches about abortion. But note that it fit the media’s general narrative of downplaying news that might be damaging to the pro-choice movement — COUGH GOSNELL COUGH — while distorting and hyping news about pro-lifers to make them look bad.

Far too many reporters covering this administration are willing to swallow whole the outlandish claims made by officials regarding what happened in the IRS scandal and, basically, every other scandal that we’ve seen in the last six years. The way Sabrina Erdely and Rolling Stone treated Jackie is the way a lot of reporters treat the causes, candidates and White House that they love and are passionate about.
Read more here.

Will Ted Cruz need 24-7 Secret Service protection?

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Violent tax collection

The sad death of Eric Garner in New York City is being talked about a lot. One aspect of the story that has only been mentioned in passing is why he was being arrested. He was selling "loosies." Loosies are the preferred way of buying cigarettes for many people in New York. Why? Lawrence J. McQuillan explains:
Was he robbing a store or attacking innocent citizens? No, police arrested Garner supposedly for selling untaxed cigarettes. The strong-arm arresting process claimed Garner’s life, all over the sale of 75-cent loose cigarettes or “loosies.”

High taxes produce underground markets for goods and services, and when these taxes are hiked, smuggling increases. Nowhere is this illustrated more clearly than in New York City.

In the name of cutting smoking rates, New York has the highest state cigarette tax at $4.35 per pack. New York City piles on an additional local cigarette tax of $1.50 per pack. Since 2006, the cigarette tax in New York state has been raised 190 percent. In response, cigarette smuggling there increased 59 percent. More than half of all cigarettes consumed in New York state are smuggled, according to a 2014 report by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Garner chose to participate in the booming underground cigarette market as a smuggler. Since 2009, he had been arrested eight times for selling loosies, which are popular among people who can’t afford a full pack because of the excessive taxes.

In January 2014, tough new penalties for selling untaxed cigarettes took effect in New York City. In July, emboldened by the new law, the city’s highest-ranking uniformed cop, Philip Banks, issued an order to crack down on loosie sales days before Garner died.

New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton wants the public to think that officer retraining on arrest procedures will fix the problem. However, Commissioner Bratton and other city officials choose to ignore the true cause: Current laws create too many situations that put police in conflict with citizens over consensual, nonviolent activities.

Eliminating punitive cigarette taxes would shrink the underground market and help redirect police resources to combating real crimes of force and violence, rather than empowering police to employ violence in the name of tax collection.
Read more here.

Empathizing with Putin and Islamists, but not Israel

Needed: a massive resettlement program!

What the Democrats need in order to win back the House of Representatives: a massive resettlement program! You see, they are too heavily concentrated in urban areas. The suburbs and rural areas are heavily Republican, in case you haven't noticed. Read more here.

Time to cash in on the "worst" ideas of the 90s.

Robert MacMillan writes:
Now that the internet has become a much bigger part of our lives, now that we have mobile phones that make using the net so much easier, now that the Googles and the Amazons have built the digital infrastructure needed to support online services on a massive scale, now that a new breed of coding tools has made it easier for people to turn their business plans into reality, now that Amazon and others have streamlined the shipping infrastructure needed to inexpensively get stuff to your door, now that we’ve shed at least some of that irrational exuberance, the world is ready to cash in on the worst ideas of the ’90s.

The lesson here is that innovation is built on the shoulders of failure, and sometimes, the line between the world’s biggest success and the world’s biggest flop is a matter of timing or logistics or tools or infrastructure or luck, or—and here’s the lesson that today’s high flying startups should take to heart—scope of ambition.
Go here to read more about ideas such as groceries and pet food being delivered to your door.

Not human-caused

So, what has caused the three-year drought in California?
Natural conditions, not human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases, are the driving force behind California’s three-year dry spell, scientists on a federal task force concluded Monday.

The evidence suggests a naturally induced “warm patch” of water in the western Pacific helped to create a high-pressure ridge that blocked precipitation from entering California, the experts said at a news conference to release the report.

“We have been able to identify this as a mode of ocean forcing of atmospheric circulation that causes West Coast drought,” said Richard Seager, a climate model specialist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Read more here.

The producers

Joel Kotkin and write that
the rustbelt could well be on the verge of a major resurgence, one that should be welcomed not only locally but by the rest of the country. Two factors drive this change. One is the steady revival of America as a productive manufacturing country, driven in large part by new technology, rising wages abroad (notably in China), and the development of low-cost, abundant domestic energy, much of it now produced in states such as Ohio and in the western reaches of Pennsylvania.

The second, and perhaps more surprising, is the wealth of human capital already existent in the region. After decades of decline, this is now expanding as younger educated workers move to the area in part to escape the soaring cost of living, high taxes, and regulations that now weigh so heavily on the super-star cities. In fact, more educated workers now leave Manhattan and Brooklyn for places like Cuyahoga County and Erie County, where Cleveland and Buffalo are located, than the other way around.

Yet a funny thing has happened on the way to oblivion: the rustbelt’s industrial base is reviving. Cheap and abundant natural gas is luring investment from manufacturers from Europe and Asia, who must otherwise depend on often unsecured and more expensive sources of energy. The current energy and industrial boom, according to Siemens President Joe Kaeser, “is a once-in-a-lifetime moment.”

Indeed, since 2010, jobs have expanded in energy, manufacturing, logistics and, with the return of the housing market in some areas, construction. Although much of the expansion has taken place in the sunbelt, notably Texas, the rustbelt economy has also been a prime beneficiary. Of the top ten states for new plants in 2010, five were in the rustbelt—led by second place (after Texas) Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana.

Most impressively, there has been a revival of job growth in these areas. Between 2009 and 2013, rustbelt cities and states dominated the country’s industrial revival. At the top of the list is Michigan, which gained 88,000 industrial jobs, a performance even greater than that of Texas, which came in second. The next three leading beneficiaries are all rustbelt states: Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

For much of the past half century, the rustbelt states suffered high levels of unemployment. But today Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin have considerably lower rates of unemployment than the national average, and considerably less than California, Georgia, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York.

The rustbelt’s technological strengths differ considerably those of the two leading engineer cities, San Jose/Silicon Valley and Houston. In the Silicon Valley engineers tend to be focused on the high profile digital economy, while those in Houston are generally engaged with oil and gas. In contrast, the rustbelt’s workforce is more involved in the world of production, of practical engineering. Their work conforms closest to French sociologist Marcel Mauss’s description of technology as “a traditional action made effective.”
Read more here.

Consequences of the irresponsible self-indulgence of our time

Thomas Sowell writes:
Rape is a crime. It belongs in a criminal-justice courtroom. And those found guilty belong behind bars for a long time.

What could possibly have led anyone to believe that college professors or campus administrators should be the ones making decisions about charges of criminal acts that can ruin the lives of the accuser or the accused?

Do we want people punished, based on other people’s preconceptions, rather than on the facts of the individual case? Apparently there are ranting mobs who do, and many in the media who give them a platform for spouting off, in exchange for the mobs’ providing them with footage that can attract an audience.

The law is not the place for amateurs. We do not need legal issues to be determined by academics, the media, or mobs in the streets.

Every society has orders and rules, but not every society has the rule of law — “a government of laws and not of men.” Nor was it easy to achieve even an approximation of the rule of law. It took centuries of struggle — and lives risked and sacrificed — to achieve it in those countries that have some approximation of it today.

To just throw all of that overboard because of mobs, the media, or racial demagoguery is staggering.

A generation that jumps to conclusions on the basis of its own emotions, or succumbs to the passions or rhetoric of others, deserves to lose the freedom that depends on the rule of law. Unfortunately, what they say and what they do can lose everyone’s freedom, including the freedom of generations yet unborn.

For people who have never tried to take into custody someone resisting arrest, to sit back in the safety and comfort of their homes or offices and second-guess people who face the dangers inherent in that process — dangers for both the police and the person under arrest — is yet another example of the irresponsible self-indulgences of our time.

Force cannot be measured out by the teaspoon, and there are going to be incalculable risks every time force is resorted to, because no one can predict what is going to happen in the next moment. Anyone involved can end up in the hospital or the morgue. Let the responsibility lie with whoever forces a resort to force.

Gruber refuses to tell Congress how much taxpayer money he received to deceive the taxpayers about Obamacare



Thanks to Ace of Spades

Monday, December 08, 2014

Happy Birthday Little Richard

Little Richard turned 82 this week. I wonder if he is still singing about Lucille.

Yes, the Nazis were socialists

Were the Nazis socialists? Daniel Hannan writes:
Hitler told Hermann Rauschning, a Prussian who briefly worked for the Nazis before rejecting them and fleeing the country, that he had admired much of the thinking of the revolutionaries he had known as a young man; but he felt that they had been talkers, not doers. “I have put into practice what these peddlers and pen pushers have timidly begun,” he boasted, adding that “the whole of National Socialism” was “based on Marx”.

Marx’s error, Hitler believed, had been to foster class war instead of national unity – to set workers against industrialists instead of conscripting both groups into a corporatist order.

But what about the “Nazis-were-far-Right” shtick?
Read more here.

Reality will always trump political spin

Is the Islamic State smuggling nuclear and radioactive material out of Iraq? One jihadist on Twitter is claiming that IS has smuggled a device into Europe. Adam Kredo writes:
Iraq reportedly informed the United Nations in July that terrorists had seized nuclear materials being housed at Mosul University. Some 90 pounds of uranium were said to have been stolen, according to reports.

Former Pentagon adviser Michael Rubin said that intelligence officials should be considering the information disseminated by purported IS confidants.

“Too often, counterterrorism officials plan to prevent replication of the last terror attack,” Rubin said. “Terror groups, however, plan to shock with something new.”

“Maybe Britani is lying, and maybe he’s not. But Western officials would be foolish to assume that just because something hasn’t happened yet, it won’t,” Rubin said. “The terrorist groups have the motivation and, thanks to post-withdrawal vacuum created in Iraq, the means to strike the West like never before.”

The threats also should factor into the ongoing debates about border control, according to Rubin.

“Perhaps it’s also time to recognize that open borders and successful counter-terrorism are mutually exclusive,” he said. “It’s a lesson that might fly in the face of Obama’s ideology, but reality will always trump political spin.”
Read more here.

Presuming the guilt of the accused

Emily Yoffe writes:
Unfortunately, under the worthy mandate of protecting victims of sexual assault, procedures are being put in place at colleges that presume the guilt of the accused. Colleges, encouraged by federal officials, are instituting solutions to sexual violence against women that abrogate the civil rights of men.

More than two dozen Harvard Law School professors recently wrote a statement protesting the university’s new rules for handling sexual assault claims. “Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process,” they wrote. The professors note that the new rules call for a Title IX compliance officer who will be in charge of “investigation, prosecution, fact-finding, and appellate review.” Under the new system, there will be no hearing for the accused, and thus no opportunity to question witnesses and mount a defense. Harvard University, the professors wrote, is “jettisoning balance and fairness in the rush to appease certain federal administrative officials.” But to push back against Department of Education edicts means potentially putting a school’s federal funding in jeopardy, and no college, not even Harvard, the country’s richest, is willing to do that.

Any woman who is raped, on campus or off, deserves a fair and thorough investigation of her claim, and those found guilty should be punished. But the new rules—rules often put in place hastily and in response to the idea of a rape epidemic on campus—have left some young men saying they are the ones who have been victimized. They are starting to push back. In the past three years, men found responsible for sexual assault on campus have filed more than three dozen cases against schools. They argue that their due process rights have been violated and say they have been victims of gender discrimination under Title IX. Their complaints are starting to cost universities. The higher education insurance group United Educators did a study of the 262 insurance claims it paid to students between 2006 and 2010 because of campus sexual assault, at a cost to the group of $36 million. The vast majority of the payouts, 72 percent, went to the accused—young men who protested their treatment by universities.

I’ve read through the court filings and investigative reports of a number of these cases, and it’s clear to me that many of the accused are indeed being treated unfairly. Government officials and campus administrators are attempting to legislate the bedroom behavior of students with rules and requirements that would be comic if their effects weren’t frequently so tragic. The legal filings in the cases brought by young men accused of sexual violence often begin like a script for a college sex farce but end with the protagonist finding himself in a Soviet-style show trial.

One campus rape is one too many. But the severe new policies championed by the White House, the Department of Education, and members of Congress are responding to the idea that colleges are in the grips of an epidemic—and the studies suggesting this epidemic don’t hold up to scrutiny.

There are approximately 12 million female college students in the U.S. (There are about 9 million males.) I asked the lead author of the study, Christopher Krebs, whether the CSA represents the experience of those millions of female students. His answer was unequivocal: “We don’t think one in five is a nationally representative statistic.” It couldn’t be, he said, because his team sampled only two schools. “In no way does that make our results nationally representative,” Krebs said. And yet President Obama used this number to make the case for his sweeping changes in national policy.

The one-fifth to one-quarter assertion would mean that young American college women are raped at a rate similar to women in Congo, where rape has been used as a weapon of war.

The names Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington, two Virginia college students who were kidnapped, raped, and murdered, are powerful testimony to the need to get campus sexual assault right. Jesse Matthew, 32, being held for Graham’s murder, has also been linked to Harrington’s and will be tried for the rape of a third woman who managed to get away. When he was a college student, Matthew was expelled from two consecutive schools, Liberty University and Christopher Newport University, after accusations of rape. Tragically, neither case ended up in the criminal justice system. It is precisely because serial predators of the kind Lisak describes do exist that we should recognize adjudicating rape is not the job of college administrators but of law enforcement. Expelling a predator only sends him out into society to attack again.

Elevating the psychological comfort of victims over society’s need to punish criminals will only let perpetrators go free.

What is to be done? How can the government and institutions of higher education address sexual assault, support victims, identify predators, and not unfairly punish innocent students?

A good place to start would be scaling back the powers of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which has overstepped its bounds in micromanaging university policies and enforcing draconian rules that infringe on the rights of the accused.

The prohibition about discussing the connection between alcohol and sexual assault should be lifted. We don’t live in a perfect world, and while school administrators should do their best to provide safe environments, it is up to each individual to make wise decisions. Getting incapacitated has no upside for young men or women. Administrators ignore the role of alcohol in sexual assault at their peril, and at the peril of their students, men and women.

We also need to change the culture of discourse around sexual assault on campuses. To stand up for the rights of the accused is not to attack victims or women. Our colleges, like the rest of our society, must be places where you are innocent until proven guilty. The day after graduation, young men and women will be thrown into a world where there is no Gender-Based Misconduct Office. They will have to live by the rules of society at large. Higher education should ready our students for this reality, not shield them from it.
Read more here.

Betting against the others



Thanks to Christopher Buckley

Cowards

Pat Buchanan writes:
Among the primary causes of the ruin of FDR’s great coalition, and the rise of Nixon’s New Majority, was the belief in Middle America that liberals were so morally paralyzed by racial guilt they could not cope with minority racism, riots and crime.

And so they lost the nation for a generation.

That same moral paralysis is on display in the aftermath of the grand jury conclusion that Officer Darren Wilson acted in self-defense when he shot Michael Brown on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri.

The grand jury concluded that not only did most witnesses support Wilson’s version, but the forensic evidence was consistent with what Wilson said had happened, and contradicted Brown’s lying companion.

Hence, no indictment, and wisely so.

Yet, Michael Brown’s death, whatever the grand jury decided, is an irreversible tragedy, horrible for his mother and father.

But what happened last week was not a tragedy but a national disgrace, a disgusting display of adult delinquency.

Monday night we witnessed in Ferguson a rampage of arson, shooting, looting and vandalism, with police and National Guard ordered not to interfere. Stores and shops, the investments of a lifetime for their owners and the livelihood of their employees, were firebombed and pillaged as police looked on.

For a week, mobs blocked highways, bridges and commuter trains from New York to Oakland. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade was disrupted. On Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, moms and their kids at malls had to climb over unruly protesters to do their Christmas shopping. The civil rights of law-abiding Americans were systematically violated.

Make no mistake. The Ferguson riots of recent months were like neighborhood cookouts compared to Watts in ‘65, Detroit and Newark in ‘67, and Washington, D.C., and a hundred other cities after the 1968 assassination of Dr. King. But the reaction of our political, media and moral elites seems even more irresolute than that of the liberals of the 1960s.

Only three weeks in office, Eric Holder called us “a nation of cowards.” Observing his and his boss’ performance in the wake of the Ferguson riots and other rampages, the same word come to mind.
Read more here.

A multigenerational project

Ann Sterzinger writes that:
amusement at others often betrays a vague feeling of our own shame.

Are we all creatures of media? Have we seen the death of books? Of face-to-face conversation?

We didn’t start forsaking the people around us for glowing pictures on a box when the smartphone was invented. Losing one’s humanity is a multigenerational project.

Having lunch with lions

Gavin McInnes writes:
Telling women they’re not sex objects and forcing them into the workforce has made them infertile. White Americans have stopped having babies and raising families, which is why we’re about to become a minority in our own country.

Girls don’t rule the world. Evil does.

Getting picked on prepares kids for the real world. When I go into a work meeting, it’s not that different from stepping into the ring. People want to test your mettle. I’ve noticed a direct correlation between how much time I spend boxing and how much money I make. We shouldn’t be protecting kids from conflict. We should be training them to enjoy it.

That’s what happens when you try to sanitize everything: more people end up getting hurt. If Mao had left the Chinese to their own devices instead of saving them from themselves, 77 million lives could have been spared. So stop trying to make a world where we can sit down and have lunch with lions. They’re brutal and dangerous animals. That’s what’s so beautiful about them. I don’t want to live in a world without this kind of beauty.
Please read more here.

Dismantling Judeo-Christian culture

Gavin McInnes writes about the cultural Marxists who run Canada and Britain, and who have far too much power in our American government.
making us less safe in the name of protecting people.

He salutes Ezra Levant, the Canadian journalist and TV host who
is primarily known for fighting the totalitarianism and corruption of various human rights commissions. He’s one of the few with the patience and resources to call them out on their hypocrisy and expose them for what they really are: cultural Marxists determined to dismantle Judeo-Christian culture.

In 2006, Levant was “investigated” by the Alberta Human Rights Commission for daring to reprint the Mohammed cartoons. He decided to tape the investigation; it became an international story that brought the commission out of the shadows and into the scrutiny of the Canadian taxpayers (who were paying about half a million dollars for the case).

Levant refused to apologize or back down in any way and after paying over $100,000 in lawyer fees, he was exonerated. Since then, he has made it his life’s work to fight for free speech, and it’s all meticulously documented in his thrilling book Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights.
Read more here.

The Night of Undocumented Shopping

Steve Sailer writes of Ferguson:
Just as in the farcical 2013 trial of “white Hispanic” George Zimmerman, when the rule of law was finally applied to this tragedy, we found that the public had been relentlessly misled.

Months of egging on the mob in Ferguson, Missouri by the Obama Administration, the Democratic Party, and the national media in order to goose turnout in this month’s midterm elections have culminated in the Night of Undocumented Shopping.

CNN reported:

An entire row of businesses on West Florissant Avenue, a major thoroughfare, was engulfed in flames. … Many business owners will return to their shops to see their livelihoods in ruins. Looters broke into a beauty supply store and stole hair weaves and wigs, leaving the heads of mannequins strewn in the middle of the street.

In Ferguson, it’s time for reparations … to the shopkeepers.

And it’s past time for a National Media Day of Shame and Reflection on why they keep falling for frauds and fiascos.
Read more here.

"We can't do anything!"

John Derbyshire laments that we now live in a country that "can't do anything." We are leaving Afghanistan after losing 3,481 coalition casualties and $1,000,000,000,000 dollars. The enemy, the Taliban, is stronger than ever. The Taliban is based in Pakistan, so we can't do anything?
“If youth only knew: if age only could,” say the French. Darn right. When you’re young you’ll tackle anything. Every experience is a first fine careless rapture. With age comes hesitation, then passivity, then incapacity.

Whatever we once were, we no longer are. Whatever vigor we once had now hangs limp and useless.

I am dreaming of a U.S.A. that can do things: deport illegals, shoot looters, win wars. It’s pure nostalgia, of course. We can’t do stuff like that today. We can’t do anything.
Read more here.

The Age of Aquarius

Former Clinton advisor Dick Morris and his wife Eileen McGann are not admirers of Hillary Clinton, to put it mildly. They have formed a website entitled The Hillary Daily.com to make regular comments about Hillary's candidacy. I wonder about the etiology of the ill will they have toward her.

Today Eileen tackles Hillary's suggestion that we should empathize with our enemies:
In a speech to a half-empty auditorium at Georgetown University that her spin doctors would undoubtedly describe as half-full, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have sealed her presidential ambitions.

At the very least, she raised serious questions about her fitness to be Commander-in-Chief.

She’s dangerous. We need to keep her far, far away from that Oval Office.

In a momentous statement, she called on Americans to “understand” and “empathize” with the “perspective and point of view” of our enemies, helping to “define the problems, determine the solutions.” She said “Smart Power” left “no one on the sidelines” and used “every possible tool and partner to advance peace and security.” Clinton even called for “respect” for our enemies.

She sounded like a new age philosopher about to belt out a line from The Age of Aquarius at a 60‘s peace rally. You could almost hear the words:

“Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars.”

Perhaps we should ask her which of our enemies she would have us "empathize" with? ISIS, who beheads reporters on the internet? Iran, who tortures and kills thousands of political dissidents every year and foments terrorism? Or North Korea that starves its own people to death? How about Assad who gases them? Putin who boldly
annexes his neighbors by force, ignoring international law?

What’s gotten into her? This woman who maintains the largest, most comprehensive, expansive, and growing list of personal and political enemies of any American political figure? Who dug up blackmail material on her husband’s mistresses to cow them into silence? Now she wants us to be forgiving, respectful, and compassionate to our enemies. Has she ever been?

You’re in over your head, Hillary. Go home. Channel Osama in the privacy of your own home. Don’t endanger our country.
Read more here.

Hoist on its own petard

Victor Davis Hanson believes that Barack Obama's ideology has been thoroughly discredited.
The hope-and-change therapeutic approach to foreign relations ended logically with historic cuts in defense, lectures about American culpability, pink lines and the end of Syria, farcical Iranian talks, in Libya the short trip from “leading from behind” to Benghazi, the self-induced suicide of Iraq, the empowerment of Putin, a pivot to Asia that invited ridicule, and the charade of a war against ISIS.

There were only two saving graces to Obama’s misadventures abroad. One, as was also true of the alphabet stew of domestic scandals, each ensuing disaster seemed to divert attention from the prior calamity. Two, Obama was not able to halt new energy exploration on private lands as he had done with federal leasing. So followed a gas and oil renaissance that he opposed but can now claim as a great boon to American global leverage. Otherwise, what Barack Obama has accomplished, in the fashion of British prime minister Stanley Baldwin in the Twenties and Thirties, will be to avoid minor confrontations on his watch — if he is lucky — while ensuring catastrophic ones for his successors.

Illegal immigration is praised only by those who benefit directly from it, whether in the familial sense of inexpensive nannies, cooks, or gardeners; or in the corporate interest of cheap labor in the hospitality industries, agriculture, and construction; or in the political sense of new liberal constituents; or in the tribal sense of expanding the so-called La Raza base. But the vast majority of Americans accept that when federal law is ignored, chaos ensues.

The burdens of the attempt to grant federal exemption to millions of foreign nationals who have never followed U.S. immigration law inevitably fall on the middle-class taxpayer and the entry-level worker. We will also soon learn that over 11 million illegal aliens are not all Dream Actors. Rather, there is a huge minority of millions of illegal residents who have broken all sorts of U.S. laws, have not worked and are on public assistance, and have no record of sustained residence in the United States. When a guest chooses to break the laws of his host by entering his home illegally, that is usually the beginning, not the end, of illegality — a mindset and pattern of behavior that in many cases is not ended by simply erasing federal immigration law. The demand for immediate action for those who would qualify for Obama’s amnesties begs the question of whether there would be commensurately quick deportations of those who do not.

Take also global warming — for Secretary of State John Kerry, the world’s greatest challenge. Once the planet did not heat up in the last 18 years, and once the ice of the polar caps did not melt away, global warming begat climate change. The new nomenclature was a clever effort to link all occasional weather extremities to some underlying and fundamental climate disruption. Brilliant though the strategy was — the opposites of cold/hot, drought/deluges, and calm/storms could now all be used as proof of permanent climate change — global warming finally was hoist on its own petard: If it caused everything, then it caused nothing.

So, in the end, what was global warming? It seems to have grown up largely as a late-20th-century critique of global-market capitalism by elites who had done so well by it that they had won the luxury of caricaturing the very source of their privilege. Global warming proved a near secular religion that filled a deep psychological longing for some sort of transcendent meaning among mostly secular Western grandees. In reality, the global-warming creed had scant effect on the lifestyles of the high priests who promulgated it. Al Gore did not cut back on his jet-fueled and lucrative proselytizing. Obama did not become the first president who, on principle, traveled with a reduced and green entourage. Solyndra did not run a model transparent company as proof of the nobility of the cause. As in the case of illegal immigration, the losers from the global-warming fad are the working and middle classes, who do not have the capital to be unharmed by the restrictions on cheap, carbon-based fuels.

The natural outcome of the reactionary approach to race relations — identity politics, the salad bowl in lieu of the melting pot, the effusions of trillions of dollars over the last half-century into Great Society dependencies — is Ferguson. We are left with the movement’s slogan, “Hands up; don’t shoot!” which now joins a growing historical corpus of racial mythography — “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” and “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

Ferguson illustrated many of the problems of postmodern liberalism: the anti-empirical insistence that the facts of the shooting of Michael Brown did not matter much; critical legal theory, which ignored the time-honored role of a disinterested grand jury; the tolerance of illegality as some sort of acceptable protest against the system; and the liberal media’s hyping a crisis on the understanding that the ramifications of the violence were safely distant from their own schools, neighborhoods, and restaurants.

The bitter truth is that Barack Obama himself is a figure who has always trafficked — albeit far more brilliantly and subtly than the buffoonish Sharpton and Jackson — in racial divisiveness, from his candid admissions in his memoir and his acknowledged dutiful discipleship at the feet of the racist Rev. Jeremiah Wright to “typical white person,” the clingers speech, “punish our enemies,” and the racially charged spin on the ongoing Skip Gates, Trayvon Martin, and Michael Brown cases. A sign of his brilliant racial contortionism is the current canard that losing 6 percent of the black vote is proof of diversity while winning only 40 percent of the white vote is an ominous sign of a new racism.

The more the liberal media outlets of shrinking audiences warned of “increasing racial tensions” as they sought to spike animosities, the more they were oddly deaf to the real story of Ferguson: a growing majority of Americans that has grown tired of racial demagoguery and profiteering. Last month’s election illustrated that the drumbeat of a supposedly old, shrinking, white, and selfish electorate juxtaposed to a new dynamic, idealistic, electorate of color only served to lose Democrats the former voters while not winning enough of the latter voters to make up the difference. After the disastrous Obama tenure, the U.S. will either return to the melting pot and the idea that race and tribe are incidental, not essential, to our characters, or it will eventually go the way of all dysfunctional societies for which that was not true — Austria-Hungary, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Iraq.

Finally, and most important, Obamism did not even deliver on its extravagant promises of a new ethos of ending crony capitalism, the revolving door, lobbyists in government, and government corruption. Indeed, Obama will go down in history as presiding over the most corrupt administration of the last half-century, when historians finally collate the IRS, VA, GSA, and Secret Service scandals; the erosion of constitutional jurisprudence; the serial untruths about Benghazi, amnesty, and Obamacare; the harassment of journalists; the record shakedown of Wall Street lucre in 2008 and 2012; and the flood of lobbyists into and out of the Obama administration. Eric Holder – with his jet-setting to sporting events on the public dime, spouting inflammatory racialist rhetoric, politicizing the Justice Department, selectively enforcing settled law, and being held in contempt of Congress for withholding subpoenaed documents — managed what one might have thought impossible: He has made Nixon’s attorney general John Mitchell seem a minor rogue in comparison.

Six years after the summer of hope and change, no one in the Democratic party is showcasing American foreign policy, pushing for cap-and-trade legislation, singing the praises of Obamacare, bragging about the way amnesty was handled, or pointing to a new cleaner and more transparent federal bureaucracy. What started out with “hope and change” and “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” ended up with a president who habitually misleads his countrymen, a baffling array of scandals, the discrediting of the obsequious media, and policies that not only did not work but by any historical model could never really have worked.

As proof, watch as Democrats regroup for 2016. Their unspoken commandment will be that most of what Obama did, they must either ignore or deny.
Read more here.

A large war is looming

Victor Davis Hanson believes that "absent preventive American vigilance," a large war is looming. He worries that
Collapsing oil prices — a good thing for most of the world — will make troublemakers like oil-exporting Iran and Russia take even more risks.

Lecturing loudly and self-righteously while carrying a tiny stick did not work with Japanese warlords of the1930s. It won’t work with the Communist Chinese either.

Radical Islam is spreading in the same sort of way that postwar Communism once swamped post-colonial Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But this time there are only weak responses from the democratic, free-market West. Westerners despair over which is worse — theocratic Iran, the Islamic State, or Bashar Assad’s Syria — and seem paralyzed over where exactly the violence will spread next and when it will reach them.

There once was a time when the United States encouraged the Latin American transition to free-market constitutional government, away from right-wing dictatorships. Now, America seems uninterested in making a similar case that left-wing dictatorships are just as threatening to the idea of freedom and human rights.

In the late 1930s, it was pathetic that countries with strong militaries such as France and Britain appeased Fascist leader Benito Mussolini and allowed his far weaker Italian forces to do as they pleased by invading Ethiopia. Similarly, Iranian negotiators are attempting to dictate terms of a weak Iran to a strong United States in talks about Iran’s supposedly inherent right to produce weapons-grade uranium — a process that Iran had earlier bragged would lead to the production of a bomb.

The ancient ingredients of war are all on the horizon. An old postwar order crumbles amid American indifference. Hopes for true democracy in post-Soviet Russia, newly capitalist China, or ascendant Turkey long ago were dashed. Tribalism, fundamentalism, and terrorism are the norms in the Middle East as the nation-state disappears.

Under such conditions, history’s wars usually start when some opportunistic — but often relatively weaker — power does something unwise on the gamble that the perceived benefits outweigh the risks. That belligerence is only prevented when more powerful countries collectively make it clear to the aggressor that it would be suicidal to start a war that would end in the aggressor’s sure defeat.

What is scary in these unstable times is that a powerful United States either thinks that it is weak or believes that its past oversight of the postwar order was either wrong or too costly — or that after Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, America is no longer a force for positive change.

A large war is looming, one that will be far more costly than the preventive vigilance that might have stopped it.
Read more here.

What is the legacy of Ferguson?

Victor Davis Hanson asks, in the wake of Ferguson,
Will some law enforcement officials now surmise that it is wiser to ignore some crimes in the inner city on the practicable logic that the denouement for the officer will likely be negative — either by stopping the assailant through force or not stopping the assault and thus being assaulted? If the suspect is unarmed but attacks, the post-Ferguson choice will either be to suffer physical harm or to respond in ways that may equate with the end of a career.

Just as the ethics reformer in the White House has left a legacy of unprecedented presidential scandal, so too the racial healer has presided over the greatest erosion in racial relations in the last half-century. That is the lesson of Ferguson — and the Fergusons to come — and the backlash outrages to the Fergusons to come — and on and on and on.
Read more here.

Generic Christmas: guaranteed not to offend

Are you squeamish about celebrating Christmas as the day we remember the birth of Jesus Christ? Here's a wonderful generic Christmas song for you.

Top writers and thinkers in America today

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that it is mostly about featuring the ideas and words of people who are much smarter than I. In that quest for truth, one of the things I have done is subscribe to something called "The Best of Journalism." Conor Friedersdorf, a staff writer for The Atlantic, is the one who puts that together twice a week.

This week Mr. Friedersdorf did something unusual. He admitted that he didn't see the signs of "staggering journalistic malpractice" when he linked to a Rolling Stone Magazine story about an alleged rape. I wrote to Mr. Friedersdorf congratulating him for publicly acknowledging his mistake, and I asked him if he had considered the possibility that the reason he didn't see it may be because, like the majority of people in his profession, he has a liberal bias.

I told Mr. Friedersdorf about my blog, and he said he would read it. So, who are the people I read that I think shed light on the great issues of the day? Here is a list of people for whom I am very grateful for their area of expertise, whom I regard as the top writers on critical issues of our day:

Critiques of the domestic and foreign policy failure of the Obama administration: Victor Davis Hanson

What it means to be a Christian, and what Christmas is all about: Ann Voskamp

All about Islamic Jihad, the sworn enemy of America, Israel, and the west: Andrew McCarthy, Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller

All about Iran, the world's biggest sponsor of terrorism: Michael Ledeen

Justice in America: Andrew McCarthy and J. Christian Adams

The hoax of global warming and climate change: William Teach, Anthony Watts, and Steven Goddard

Economic, demographic, and political commentary about places: Joel Kotkin

The evil of feminism: Chateau Heartiste

Political analysis: Ace of Spades

China: Epoch Times

Resistance to socialism: Bill Whittle, Scott Ott

There are many more outstanding writers and thinkers I rely on to enrich my knowledge of the world. They are listed on the blogroll at the right side of my blog.

Update: Mr. Friedersdorf replied: "For writers and thinkers on the right, I regularly follow Reihan Salam, Charles C.W. Cooke, Matt Welch, Peter Suderman, Radley Balko, Matt Labash, Rod Dreher, Daniel McCarthy, Andrew Ferguson, Heather Mac Donald, James Poulos, everyone at the Orange County Register op-ed page (where I am a columnist), Ross Douthat, Yuval Levin, Jim Manzi, and many more–too many to name them all, I suddenly realize!"

Sunday, December 07, 2014

132 years!

Did you know that the seat Mary Landrieu just lost in Louisiana has been Democrat for 132 years? Here is an interesting article and chart breaking down each Senate seat according to how long it has been held by the party currently in office.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Thank you, voters!

Harry Reid is no longer in control of the U.S. Senate. Louisiana added number 54 today to the Republican roster. His name is Bill Cassidy. The Democrats now have 46. Read more here.

A holy night



Thanks to Ann Voskamp

A thank you project



Thanks to Ann Voskamp

Friday, December 05, 2014

What's wrong with liberalism

Jennifer Rubin sees three trends in modern liberalism:
First, liberalism’s moral superiority led to intellectual laziness, a refusal to look at the way the world is (e.g. the failure of Keynesian economics, the nature of Islamic fundamentalism, the shortcomings of the liberal welfare state, disregard for the benefits of free markets). With that laziness came a distasteful tone. Twitter seems the perfect medium for the snarly left — filled with one-liners, personal attacks, snap judgments and just plain meanness. Identity politics, the last refuge of a movement with few policy innovations to offer, becomes the default mode for the left.

Second, the faults in liberal ideology became more acute as society became more complex. Yuval Levin (conservative philosopher, policy wonk and editor who has no liberal counterpart) writes: “But the size and cost of the liberal welfare state are a function of its basic character, and it is that character that is really at issue in most policy debates between liberals and conservatives. The fundamentally prescriptive, technocratic approach to American society inherent in the logic of the Left’s policy thinking is a poor fit for American life at any scale. The liberal welfare state ultimately cannot be had at an affordable price. It is not the architecture of one or another particular program that makes it unsustainable. It is unsustainable because the system as a whole must feed off of the innovative, decentralized vitality of American life, yet it undermines both the moral and the economic foundations of that vitality.” To be blunt, a set of assumptions about society and the world that were wrong but passable in 1960 are an obvious debacle in 2014. Giving the left power in the form of their dream president proved a fatal move, allowing all to see its gross shortcomings.

Third, the left’s disdain for limitations on its quest for power (the rule of law, factual accuracy, due process, personal civility) has proven to be unwise and self-destructive. Smash-and-grab politics cannot sustain itself. The president can’t simply make up facts and seize power from the legislative branch to achieve what he wants. The narrative cannot be accurate if the facts are wrong. Fair-minded people revolt against kangaroo courts and institutional railroading. And loss of polite debate and respect for opponents erode the public square and obviates the need for much needed self-reflection and reasoned argument. As universities fall down on their job of instilling ethical and intellectual excellence the failures of other liberal institutions (the media, the think tanks) leave a movement adrift and shallow.

Obama has certainly been bad for Democrats, but until they fix what is wrong with liberalism the Democratic Party will not recover.
Read more here.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Eggs are expensive, sperm is cheap

More from Chateau Heartiste:
Eggs are expensive, sperm is cheap. Every psychological dynamic you see playing out in mass societies liberated from artificial constraints on the sexual market flows from this premise. This means, as a systemic matter, women are coddled, men are upbraided. Women are victims, men are victimizers. Women need a leg up, men need to man up. Women have advocacy groups, men have equal opportunity violations.

Rationalizing favoritism toward women as some sort of payback for male privilege, or refusing to acknowledge this favoritism altogether, is an example of the cognitive calisthenics and evasive sophistry most people will indulge to avoid grappling with the cold, black void of an uncaring evolutionary replication machine.
Read more here.

Who gets the blame?

Are you a woman? Do you have a talent for avoiding consequences? Chateau Heartiste writes:
Women are the biologically and reproductively more valuable sex, (men are the culturally and civilizationally more valuable sex), and this instinctive reality influences every social and political aspect of our lives. It’s the reason why women are eager to recuse themselves from any blame, no matter how deserving, and the reason why men are eager to enable women to do this.

Since this sex difference in blame apportioning and accountability is biological in nature, there will never be a program or seminar or rehabilitation camp capable of overturning it. The most you can do is point it out so the worst excesses of it aren’t codified into law by raving feminist lunatics and nancyboy beta suckups.

Women are indeed verbal magicians in the art of redirecting blame and avoiding consequences for their actions. They likely evolved this talent as an answer (antidote?) to male physical and martial superiority. Some other ways women avoid consequences:

- blaming “the system” or “the patriarchy” (this covers a wide swath of feminist philosophy, such as it is)
– pathologizing male behavior
– exploiting white knights (most of whom are beta males secretly yearning for romantic attention)
– making “for the children” pleas
– demanding female sexual empowerment, then demanding desexualized men (a fine demonstration of cruelty)
– gossip and alliance-building
– tears
– sex withdrawal (the male analogue of sex withdrawal is resource withdrawal. ask a wife how she’d feel about that!)
– its opposite: promises of sex
– poisoning children against their fathers
– making, or threatening, abuse and rape allegations (more common than most think, because a tyrannical state permits this vile behavior to metastasize)
– being unaware of or ill-disposed toward examining their own sexual machinations (it’s easier to defy blame for crappy behavior when you can’t perceive the importance of your agency, or the motivation for your desires)
Read more here.

On winning primaries

One of the most astute observers of the American political scene, in my opinion, is Ace at the Ace of Spades blog. Here are some excerpts of one of his posts today:
That is how you win. Not by actually changing people's minds, but simply by arguing the issues upon which they already agree with you are paramount and determinative, and the issues on which they disagree with you are minor and not worth discussing much.

Only egotistical fools bull forward with a plan to run on issues -- emphasize issues -- that he knows the voting public disagrees with him on.

A winning politician is often likened to a weather vane. He can also be likened to a mirror. Barack Obama, a narcissistic fool if there ever was one, was nevertheless astute enough to recognize the heart of his appeal, noting that he was but a "blank screen" upon which voters could project their deepest beliefs.

So Jeb Bush's candidacy is essentially a Protest Candidacy. Protest Candidacies are all about "convincing people" of this or that thing they don't already believe. Occasionally they may have some impact, in that they raise the profile of an issue.

But what Protest Candidates do not do is win primaries, and Jeb Bush's Protest Candidacy (apparently protesting conservatism itself, it seems like) will likewise fail to result in an actual nomination.

It will be the most high-profile, most extravagantly funded Protest Candidacy in history, but it will result in a failure, as all Protest Candidacies result in failure.

I don't know how many of these egotistical imbeciles (Huntsman, Bush) are going to go into a primary swearing I can fight all 40 million of ya and beat ya!

You can't. This is a negotiation of a corporate merger, not a philosophy class with one man leading the class towards wisdom. A political campaign is a negotiation of a multiparty merger into one short-lived political corporation.

You don't win by "winning," you win by making most of the factions feel they're all winning.

The "Jeb is the moderate warrior who will fight the conservative base" story is largely promulgated *BY THE PROGRESSIVE MEDIA* in covering Jeb, not by Jeb in his own words, himself.

That said, I only tend to hear Jeb taking on the conservative base. I do not hear him attacking the progressive Social Justice Welfare State.

I think the media is juicing this some, possibly just seeing what they want to see, but Jeb is in fact helping them do this.
Read more here.

Are you getting enough sleep?

Do Boehner and McConnell fight Obama just like Obama fights wars?

Could we go back to the Stone Age?

You can't be dependent on someone without allowing them to control you

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

He's got a message that upsets the apple cart!

"The Democrats can't have black folks living like the Huxtables. That would have black folks living independent from them!" AlfonZo Rachel, as usual, has a unique take on the allegations about Bill Cosby, none of which have yet been decided in a court of law. He believes that a "long awaited plan for Bill" has been waiting in the wings of the progressive elitists who run the Democratic party. If Bill had not espoused conservative views, when advising fellow black Americans about how to improve their share of the American pie by hitting the books, believing in themselves, and working hard, traditional America values, perhaps he would have been given a pass by the liberal media. Case in point: "Bill Clinton, proven in court to be an adulterous lying pervert! And the feminists love him!"

On the other hand, Cosby doesn't make excuses and turn fellow blacks into victims. He preaches tough love. AlfonZo points out that there are at least two lessons Cosby will be learning from this experience: liberals are not your friends, and don't ever have a different narrative than the politically correct one espoused by the Left.

It was the environmental whackos

Over 100 brains have been stolen from the University of Texas psychology department. Social media had lots of theories. One theory was that Abby Normal may have taken it.

However, this sign was spotted on N. Lamar near MLK, just southwest of the campus.

I don't think there is any truth to the rumor that Taylor Swift may have stolen them as ingredients for her cat's hair conditioner.

Ralph K.M. Haurwitz of the American-Statesman Staff writes:
Human brains missing from a University of Texas collection were disposed of in “approximately 2002” because their poor condition rendered them unsuitable for research or teaching, the university said Wednesday.

UT said in a statement that its preliminary investigation also found “no evidence” that any of the brain specimens came from Tower shooter Charles Whitman, “though we will continue to investigate those reports.” Whitman’s 1966 rampage eventually took 16 lives, including those of his mother and wife, whom he stabbed to death before climbing the Tower.

The preliminary investigation found that UT environmental health and safety workers, in conjunction with a biological waste contractor, disposed of 40 to 60 jars, some containing multiple brains. A pathologist at the state hospital collected the brains from autopsies of deceased mental patients.
Read more here.
Thanks to Christopher Buckley